Yeadon Town Hall has been returned to its former glory after a two-year restoration project.
Once a thriving place of cultural heritage, the building fell into disrepair. Originally built in 1889, it has been returned as the cultural centre piece of the town by a Community Interest Company (CIC), which formed in 2017 and has managed the building since 2019.
The CIC is spearheaded by a group of people passionate about the venue’s heritage and the community it serves.
Completed building works include three new clock faces, 64 window repairs, 23 repaired stain glass windows, extensive roof repairs, full decoration throughout, the installation of a new bar, new box office and new sound and lighting system. The venue is now the third largest theatre space in Leeds.
Jamie Hudson, Managing Director of Yeadon Town Hall CIC, said: “It’s been a long journey, but an incredibly worthwhile one to see this beautiful building at its best. We have an exciting programme of events and shows in the coming months, and are proud to drive the creative cultural and tourism appeal of Yeadon. This building is also the valuable heart of our community, as an accessible space for local groups to use.”
Highlights include removing its 1950s ceiling in the redesigned bar area to reveal its original double-height Victorian ceilings and stained-glass windows hidden for half a century.
During its rich history, the Town Hall has been used as a meeting room space, community cinema, school rooms, a library, archive, concert hall and theatre.
Councillor Mary Harland, Executive Member for Communities at Leeds City Council, said: “The virus has taught us how much we rely on our local communities. Yeadon Town Hall was the centre of the town for over 140 years, and there’s a renewed appetite for the venue. As a hub, it’s brought the community closer during COVID-19 with its successful community markets, café and pop-up bar. It’s a fantastic asset, and promises to be a vital contribution to the local economy.”
Community activities include social groups for the elderly, with bingo, quizzes, and refreshments. Over 500 people a week attend its regular activities.
A varied programme of events has been announced from August until December 2021, featuring comedy, variety clubs, community markets, brass bands, speciality acts and concerts, as well as Oktoberfest.
As a social enterprise, a £100k loan from the social investor, Key Fund, in 2018 kick-started its internal repairs, and the project has also been supported by the Graham & Diane Smith Charitable Trust. Leeds City Council supported the transformation with over £750,000 to repair the exterior of the building, including its roof and clocktower.
The CIC also received an emergency grant from the Arts Council during COVID-19.
Jamie said: “The pandemic has been detrimental to the arts and events industry. But the local community has really risen to the challenge. The community asset transfer has been a huge success. We’re grateful to all the individuals, volunteers and businesses who have supported us, alongside Leeds City Council for their ongoing support to deliver the essential external repairs of the building. There is an amazing team of volunteers who help with its running. We have exciting plans for the future of our community and arts hub.”
Jamie also runs Leeds-based Vivo Entertainment and co-founded the newly reformed Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra (YSO). Vivo has provided an artistic and financial platform for the YSO, producing the Harewood House Picnic Proms this September, where the orchestra will debut. Yeadon Town Hall will be the official home of the new orchestra, which aims to be the musical and cultural voice for Yorkshire and the north of England.
Photographers credit Gerard Binks.